How to set up a tackle box

By: John “Bear” Willis, Video by: WTFN

Setting up your tackle box is the first step to enjoying the quiet art of fishing.

So you’re finally planning that trip of a lifetime and you want to do some fishing, but you don’t know what tackle to buy.

The first step is to find a friendly tackle shop, and I mean one with personal service. Good tackle shops employ fishermen, not counter attendants.

Let’s start with a basic kit to cover most bases.


In my opinion, the old-style tackle box has been replaced by the tackle bag. There are tonnes of them around and they come with your choice of two, three or four removable internal boxes or trays. You can fill each box with gear for different styles of fishing, or just use them to organise your tackle

So what’s first? Numero uno is certainly a knife! It doesn’t need to be an expensive knife but it must be kept sharp, so a small stone isn’t a bad idea, either. Long nose pliers come next – especially some with wire cutters and tool combination.

Pocket-sized stainless steel scissors come in very handy for trimming line. This old fisho has blunt eye teeth from cutting line with my teeth.

Then there is an item I wouldn’t be without. It’s a fish-removing hook. No, not one of those silly plastic prodders, an actual stainless steel shaft with a hook twisted into the end and a handle at the other.


It doesn’t matter your style of fishing or location, you will need a range of hooks. Even game and sports fishos often need to start with smaller fish for live bait, so carry a range down as low as size 10 long shanks for baitfish, garfish, or small-mouthed fish such as leatherjacket and luderick. Bream, whiting and many other bread and butter species will require some size 4-8s and I have a preference for the ‘baitholder’ style of hooks with the little barbs on the shaft to stop slippery baits like mussels and pippies from slipping down in a clump at the gape.

For pinky snapper (squire), Australian salmon and a host of other species 1/0 suicide hooks work fine and I use this style up to 5/0 on larger snapper, flathead, Murray cod, yellowbelly and general bottom bashing, even in the surf. The idea is to match the size of the hook to your bait, allowing for the size of the mouth of the target species. Don’t forget that circle hooks are terrific if you wish to catch and release your fish as they do little damage.


A properly presented lure will catch everything from whiting to marlin and it is amazing how a small fish will hit a large lure, and vice versa. The revolution was led by bibbed hard bodies and followed up quickly by soft plastics of every size, shape, colour, texture and combination. Personally, I’d be travelling with some small grub and worm styles of plastics for the bread and butter species, and some larger 50-100mm models.

I’m trying to avoid recommending any brands in particular but there are a few stand-outs that I must mention. Tassie Devils for trout, Rapala CD5s and larger for just about everything, Lazer and similar flashy slices, Stump Jumpers and similar for cod, the old faithful Gold Bombers for just about everything up north, and Sabikis jigs for bait gathering.

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The full feature appeared in Caravan World #535 March 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!